Research on the subject of how many people are gay poses more questions than answers. Citing the most recent Australian survey conducted by Roy Morgan on the gay population of Australia: the survey suggests there are 4.6% of Australian teenagers who agree with the statement: “I consider myself a homosexual”. This number decreases to 6.5% of people in their 20s, 4.2% of people in their 30s, 2.8% in their 40s and only 1.7% of people aged 50+.
In total, 4.1% of Australian men and 2.8% of women identify as being homosexual.
So, does this trend of younger Australians who are homosexual mirror a global story of youth who identify as being gay? It seems the answer is yes. Around the world the trend of young people who say they are attracted to the same sex is higher than those who are older.
In Brazil, 15% of people aged 18-29 are most likely to identify as non-heterosexual, dropping to 5% for those aged 50+. Same goes for Canada with 11.1% of 18-34 year olds being more likely to identify as LGBT than the 2.6-3.4% of those in older age brackets.
Gay women of the world
But age isn’t the only difference. Women it turns out are less likely to identify with being exclusively gay. In France, a study of over 20,000 people found that 4.1% of men and only 2.6% of women had experienced at least one occurrence of same-sex relations in their lifetime.
Straight, gay or bi?
Same-sex attraction doesn’t necessarily mean you identify as homosexual or even bisexual. A percentage of both men and women who identify as being heterosexual also agree to being somewhat attracted to the same sex. In Ireland, 5.3% of men and 5.8% of women reported some same-sex attraction. So it seems we may be more bi-curious than bi-sexual.
Men who have sex with men … but aren’t gay (MSM)
When it comes to same sex attraction versus homosexual behaviour in men the distinction becomes even more unclear. In Africa and Latin America, men have sex with men (MSM) but still identify as heterosexual. So, as well as the surveys only asking specific questions around homosexuality, when it comes to males in certain countries, the results are inconclusive due to differences around what the term homosexual really means.
The younger population are more likely to identify as homosexual
What is clear from the surveys about the percentage of the population who are gay is that teens as well as younger men and women are more likely to admit to having sexual relations and same-sex attraction than the older age bracket, and that is consistent worldwide.
Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan research adds this, “The rising rate across all age groups shows that people who consider themselves homosexual are becoming more open about it, which reflects increasing acceptance across society.”